Lonely Planet Writer

76-Second Travel Show: 'Is cold travel better than hot?'

Ah, January. The post-holiday/pre-spring ennui is fully descending on most of the northern hemisphere (particularly considering the seriously snowy winter in the UK) and the collective travel focus seems to dwell on escapes to beaches in the Caribbean, Thailand or just the southern hemisphere.

Not me. Sure I'd like a week at a beach. But at no time in year do I love my home New York City more than January or February.

Temperatures fall sometimes to about 20 degrees (F) -- or minus-six (C) -- but I can deal with that if I dress right. And once out there sidewalks are comparatively empty (particularly the SoHo or West Village), and Midtown or bridge walkways walks sound best under the soothing crunch of a fresh snow.

Winter-lovers aren't just about ski slopes or luge lessons. Writer Charlie English took the love of snow itself to a new levels in his recent (if a bit spotty) travelogue The Snow Tourist. In it, he visits 'snow scenes' including the Vermont site of the first man to photograph a snowflake, Wilson Bentley -- who did the deed 125 years ago last week. Interesting stuff (particularly the 'snow handbook' at the back of the book), but for me more satisfying snow experience for me is watching the icy highways (and murder scenes) of Fargo, the 1996 Coen brothers movie that actually takes place in Brainerd, Minnesota.

I recently called Brainerd's CVB to find out their take on 'cold travel' versus 'hot travel,' and learned their greatest event is scheduled this weekend: the Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Icefishing Extravaganza, a ice-fishing contest atop frozen Gull Lake, which expects 20,000 fishers.

I'm adding that to my list of world's winter festivals to see next year, topped with Winter Carnival in Québec City.